The Millennium

The prophet Daniel interpreted the dream of king Nebuchadnezzar in around 600 B.C. to reveal there would be 5 world empires from that time, (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and Revived Rome ruled by 10 kings), after which “in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever”. (Daniel 2:44). All of the preceding kingdoms were literal earthly kingdoms with real kings ruling them, thus it would reasonable to conclude that kingdom God is to set will also be a real physical kingdom on earth. Furthermore, Jesus promised his disciples that they would be given a reward for giving up all to follow Him; that reward would be to one day sit on thrones ruling over the 12 Tribes of Israel. In the prayer Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6, He told us to pray for His kingdom to come  & will to be  done, on earth!
In chapter 20 of Revelation we are introduced to what is often referred to as the Millennial Reign of Christ.  The word ‘millennium’ comes from the Latin words ‘mille’ meaning a ‘thousand’ and ‘annum’ meaning ‘years’. Verse 6 says: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years”. Thus, on the surface at least, this would seem to indicate that when Christ returns it will be to sit on the Throne of David (Luke 1:32 / 1 Cor 15:25 / 2 Sam 7:16 / Daniel 2:44 / Dan 7:27 / Ezek 37:21-22), and He will then reign on Earth for a period of 1000 years. viagra price ireland

To someone reading the Bible for the first time, it is unlikely they would interpret the six clear references in this chapter to 1000 years as meaning anything other than a literal period of 1000 years. However, since the 3rd – 4th century there has been a school of thought that has suggested this should be, and was intended to be, interpreted symbolically. The same scholars will also make the same claim for much of the book of Revelation, arguing that what we have presented is allegorical ‘picture language’, things that are to be understood ‘spiritually’ rather than taken as actual events that are being foretold.

This immediate problem is that this view ignores the opening words of the book, where it is stated: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Rev 1:1) prices for viagra 100mg

There is no implication found anywhere in the book that these things are merely given to illustrate spiritual truths, depicting a struggle between good and evil; nor is this position consistent with the rest of the Bible. In Matthew 24 when Jesus was asked about the events preceding His return, He answered plainly and simply, and as we have seen, He then summerised the key events that are later expanded upon in the book of Revelation. It should also be stated that the Old Testament prophecies, which in many respects became the hope of the nation of Israel, can’t just be put to one side because either.

That being the case, one might well ask why the allegorical approach gained any momentum at all, let alone be the principle view taught in most seminaries today. We will explore the roots of this in a while, but at the end of the day we ultimately come back to the same question: Is this chapter (and indeed this book) meant to be understood as unfolding literal events that will take place, or should it be seen as symbolic? [and if so, symbolic of what?].

In essence, either God through His Word has revealed there will be a period of 1000 years when Christ will reign following His Second Coming, or this is just picture language, symbols designed to illustrate some other point. If the latter is true, the question has to be asked, what point is being made?, and who is it that decides how to interpret what we read?, (if what we read does in fact not actually mean what the surface text says?!)

It is worth mentioning that the basic ‘rules’ of Biblical interpretation, agreed on by most scholars state:

When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise (Arnold Fructenbaum).

It should be added that: Any passage of scripture that on the surface may seem to be difficult to understand will be explained elsewhere in scripture, thus eliminating guesswork and human opinion as to its meaning (Arnold Fructenbaum).

Some years ago I read a book called ‘How to read the Bible for all its worth’. Overall it was a good and instructive book that laid out the above principles for how to read and understand the Bible – right up until the chapter the dealt with Revelation! At that point the joint authors went against almost everything they had said to that point and ignored the plain-text-meaning and attempted to allegorise everything!

Another commentary on Revelation that I still have on my bookshelf (mainly to remind myself how distorted things can get if we ignore the Holy Spirit – more on that in a moment!!) goes as far as saying that in Revelation ‘angels are not angels, nothing should be taken literally!’

What did Jesus say regarding the Holy Spirit?

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:12-15).

Based on this, any attempt to allegorise Scripture is a denial of the work of the Holy Spirit. If you allegorise, who decides? Who confirms and checks? What do you check against? Why is one opinion any better than another? In essence, Jesus says the Holy Spirit is the only One who can and will explain Scripture to us, and in this way we can all independently study and come to a knowledge of the truth, not a knowledge of various truths!

To illustrate this, consider Calvary Chapel; now I don’t mean to say that Calvary Chapel has got everything right, or that Calvary Chapel is better than any other church, but if you were to put a bunch of Calvary Chapel pastors in a room and throw in some doctrinal issues and theological topics, I can guarantee you there would be almost 99% agreement. Any differences would be minor. Why? Is it because we have all studied together and agreed what we should say? Not at all! It is because independently we have read and studied God’s Word and have been willing to take it seriously, allowing the text to speak for itself. The Holy Spirit has been our guide to lead us into all truth – and the same is true for countless numbers of believers around the world. how to get viagra

Now, go and take a selection of Anglican ministers, or Baptist ministers, or Methodist ministers, put them in a room and just see what happens when you ask them about the Rapture? Or ask them about Baptism, Creation, the Flood of Noah, or the Giants of Genesis 6, or even about the Second Coming and millennium!

Now, I am not saying they have all got it wrong, but I can guarantee you there will be a multitude of opinions. Once I was on a committee organising an outreach event in our town. I suggested, as we were representing a number of different denominations, that it might be helpful to have a joint ‘statement of faith’, just to show we were united on the foundational elements of our faith, even though we may differ on other things. Incredibly we couldn’t even agree on what we agreed on! The only way to have real unity and be as Paul urged in 1 Cor 1:10, speaking with the same mind and same judgment, is to base everything on the Bible, taking it seriously, believing that God means what He says and says what He means; allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

Returning to our topic, J Vernon McGee shared the following:

“A friend of mine disagreed with my interpretation of the Book of Revelation.  He said, “It doesn’t mean that.” I said, “Then you tell me what it means.” “It is a symbol.” “All right, now you tell me what it is a symbol of.” “Oh, it’s just a symbol.”

Don’t you know that a symbol has to be a symbol of something? And it has to make sense. You can’t just pull an explanation out of a hat and say, ‘This is what it means.’ How do you know what it means? It is a symbol of something, and by careful study and comparison with parallel passages, you are to determine what it is. No prophecy is of ‘private interpretation’ (2 Peter 1:20); it must be tested by the whole Word of God.”

When we do compare what we read in Revelation 20 with what we find in the rest of scripture, we find that God has promised there will be a time of ‘restitution of all things’ (Acts 3:21) when creation (that is currently also in bondage as a result of the fall) will be set free (Romans 8:21). As a result the “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD”. (Isaiah 65:25). We are also told that Jesus will rule from the throne of David (Luke 1:32), which is an earthly throne in Jerusalem. In that day, nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Micah 4:3).

Jesus also promised His disciples they would sit on 12 thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28) – it is extremely unlikely they believed that this was meant symbolically. Just stop and think for a moment, who wants a symbolic reward? Would you be happy with a symbolic birthday present? Try buying your husband or wife a symbolic present, rather than an actual present, and let me know how you get on!

Unless the 12 tribes of Israel are gathered back to their land, and unless there is a kingdom where Christ is ruling and reigning, this promise made by Jesus to His disciples is meaningless!

In Daniel 2 we have the dream of Nebuchadnezzar where he saw a statue. Daniel interpreted this as the succeeding world empires concluding with the 10 kings that would rule under Antichrist. Following this, the God of Heaven would set up His kingdom on this earth.

There really was a literal historical kingdom of Babylon. This was followed by the literal physical Medo-Persian Empire. Alexander the Great was not an allegorical character who led a mystical Greek army to conquer the middle-east in lightning fast time. These were real events prophesied by Daniel that actually took place. Rome was a literal Empire crushing all before it.

So why, given that the historical content of Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled literally, do some reach the conclusion that the future prophecies must somehow now be understood allegorically? May we ask why the future content of these prophecies should be taken in anything other than the same literal way as that which has already been? [Remember, all of Daniel’s prophecies were future to him at the time he recorded them! He made no distinction between some that were real and others that were supposedly symbolic!!)]

It should also be noted that every time in scripture where we see a prophecy fulfilled it is always literal and not symbolic. The Jew’s Babylonian captivity lasted for 70 literal years as prophesied by Jeremiah in 25:12. The Temple was literally destroyed by the Romans in AD70 as foretold by Jesus in Matthew 25, and so on.

We often hear it said: “There are good scholars on both sides of this debate”, thus creating the impression that no one can be sure about these things, or that we shouldn’t be dogmatic. However a good mechanic would diagnose the fault correctly. You would not recommend a mechanic to your friends if they had incorrectly diagnosed a problem with your car. Therefore to call scholars ‘good’ if they have diagnosed scripture incorrectly may be an example of ‘Christian charity’ but is ultimately unhelpful and only serves to perpetuate these errors.

Before we move on, it might be helpful to have a look at the common interpretations that come from the various allegorical viewpoints.

Amillennialism

The word Amillennial comes from the Greek ‘mille’ meaning ‘thousand’ and ‘annum’ from where we get year’; but when a word is prefixed by ‘a’, it means ‘not’ (as in ‘a-muse’ i.e. not to muse, lit. not to think!). Thus a-millennialists believe that there will not be a literal period of 1000 years where Christ will reign on earth. Some go even further and state that the Second Coming itself will not be a physical event with Christ returning bodily.

Thus, to amillennialists, the millennium as mentioned in Revelation chapter 20, and alluded to in numerous other passages throughout the Bible, is seen as a period when Jesus will come (or indeed has already come) again ‘spiritually’ to ‘reign on the earth’ through the Church. The explanation of Satan being bound throughout this time (see v2 & v7) is therefore explained as his inability to stop the preaching of the gospel. So where did all this begin?

During the first and second century A.D. the Christian Church suffered much persecution, which led some to conclude they were in the ‘Great Tribulation’ as spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24 and as detailed in the book of Revelation. Giving impetus to this belief was the fact that Roman Emperor Constantine subsequently ended this persecution of Christians around 315 A.D. ushering in a period of peace and prosperity for the church. In an attempt to join the dots together, men such as Origen (who was ‘credited’ with allegorizing much of scripture), put forward the teaching that now the persecution was over, the church had entered the millennium! No longer was Christianity outlawed, it was now the official religion of the Roman Empire.

As pagan religions were side-lined, Christians even started moving from homes and using the ornate pagan buildings as places of worship. These buildings typically had a raised altar area at the front to separate the clergy from the laity as was common practice among other religions. Many pagan practices also became adopted by the church in an attempt to create unity and ‘work together’, such as Christmas (originally a pagan/Babylonian celebration), and Easter (which was a fusion of the pagan feast of Ishtar and Jewish celebration of Passover). The worship of ‘mother & child’, already integral to pagan worship, having been passed down from ancient Babylon, was easily incorporated into ‘Christianity’ by simply changing the names of the mother to Mary, and the child to Jesus. All of this new found freedom led many to jump on the bandwagon and conclude that the church must have entered the ‘millennium’ era of peace. The fact that Jesus had not returned meant that the only way to ‘explain’ the scriptures was to re-interpret then as figurative, illustrating general truths rather than literal events, saying that books such as Revelation were to be taken symbolically, depicting a struggle between good and evil, rather than detailing actual events that are yet to take place in God’s appointed time. This teaching eventually found wide acceptance through Augustine’s book ‘The City of God’.

It should also be noted that the orthodox position held by the early church (namely, that Christ would return and usurp the wicked and corrupt governments of this world), was not obviously a ‘politically correct’ notion. Indeed, it was felt by some that the last thing the church needed was to be seen to be ‘preaching’ against the Roman Empire – an Empire who had already made persecution of Christians a national sport.

This ‘new’ interpretation therefore held that Christ’s kingdom and reign on earth were to be fulfilled symbolically through the Church. As noted above, some even went as far as to suggest that Christ would not actually return bodily, but that the Church would conquer the world and Christ would reign in the hearts of His subjects. This teaching is prevalent even today under such titles as ‘dominion theology’ or ‘kingdom now theology’. The Word-Faith movement that rose to prominence in the 1980’s and beyond is typically a proponent of this thinking, as is the Roman Catholic church. The roots of this help to piece together much of the history of the ‘church’.

As you can imagine, back in the 4th century, this idea had great appeal to Roman Emperors and subsequent Popes as it elevated them and afforded them great power, as they assumed ‘divine’ responsibility for ushering in Christ’s kingdom on earth.

Furthermore, the promises and prophecies regarding national Israel now also had to find a ‘spiritual’ fulfilment in the church, as there is no room or need in Amillennialism for a national Israel [contrary to God’s unconditional covenant with Abraham and Paul’s clear statements in Romans 9-11].

This of course paved the way for the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church, who saw their mandate as conquering the world in the name of Christ and establishing Christ’s government on earth, often at the expense of the Jews, who were labelled ‘Christ killers’ and held forever accountable for the crucifixion of Jesus. This became the catalyst that led to the infamous crusades to capture Jerusalem.

Because of the Roman Catholic church’s widespread influence, Amillennialism became the prevalent view throughout the established church. Although the reformation did much to lead a return to Biblical Christianity, in particular that salvation is by grace alone in Christ alone, and not a product of our works, many other doctrinal issues were not addressed, resulting in much of the teaching of the Catholic church, including Amillennialism, being adopted by the protestant churches that grew out of the reformation.

Post Millennialism

Another common view is ‘post millennialism’ which teaches that Jesus will return physically, but only after the millennium [and there are various views as to what the millennium will be, how long it will last, when it started, and when it will therefore end].

However, one of the key tenants of Post Millennialism is the belief that the church will ‘Christianise’ the earth and then Jesus will come back after a ‘golden age’ of church rule.

Jonathan Edwards (‘father of America post millennialism’) witnessed an incredible revival when Whitfield preached in America. Jonathan Edwards assumed this to be the start of the millennium and believed that it would spread around the world.

Surprising as it may seem, Adolph Hitler  – a Roman Catholic to the day of his death – apparently believed that he was ushering in a millennium and his destruction of the Jews was part of the cleansing process.

However, this view leaves no room for all of the warnings given by Jesus about the events that would precede His Second Coming. It also once again removes Israel from the plan.

Regarding the above two views, Calvary Chapel pastor David Guzik comments:

The early church until Augustine almost universally believed in an earthly, historical reign of Jesus, initiated by His return. Tyconius (in the late 300’s) was the first to influentially champion a spiritualized interpretation, saying that this Millennium is now (Amillennialism) His view was adopted by Augustine, the Roman Catholic Church and most Reformation theologians. Postmillenialism is an outgrowth of Amillennialism, saying the millennium will happen in this age, before Jesus’ return; however, the church will bring it to pass.

However: The earthly reign of Christ and His people on this earth is plainly taught in the Old and New Testaments. Old Testament: Psalm 72; Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:4-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6 (and much, much more) New Testament: Luke 1:32-33; Matthew 5:18; Luke 19:12-27.

During this period, Israel is renewed in Christ, and assumes a leadership role in the world under Jesus; for the other nations, it is a time of joy, peace and blessing – all in strict obedience to Christ. The created order is also blessed and transformed (as reflected in the passages speaking of wolf lying down with the lamb, and so forth)

Is it a literal 1,000 years? We should take a number literally unless there is clear reason or evidence to do otherwise.

Some of the problems with a symbolic interpretation of the book of Revelation and chapter 20 in particular are as follows:

  • Six times in this chapter we are told of a period of 1000 years (v2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). There is no reason to believe that this is to be taken other than at face value.
  • A symbolic interpretation allows no room for the restoration of Israel and the everlasting covenant that God made with Abraham and confirmed with David. Gen 17:7 /  2 Sam 7:12-13, 16, 24, 26, 29  / Psalm 89 / Jer 30:8-11 / Jer 33:14-26 etc.
  • If we are in the kingdom age now, only the great white throne awaits us; which is a Judgment based on works (actually it is a sentencing – the judgment having already having been passed) – and that’s bad news for all of us!
  • Contrary to what Paul believed, the Church cannot be the Bide of Christ because the marriage of the Lamb occurs before the ‘millennium’ (Rev 19:7). If we are now living in the ‘millennium’, Christ must already have His bride.
  • It negates the clear teaching of Jesus regarding the time before He returns, the deceptions that He said would abound, and His coming in power and glory that He said will be like lightning across the sky – not something you could easily miss!
  • It negates the countless prophecies in the Old Testament about the Day of the Lord, and the time of trouble for Israel (Jer 30:7 / Isaiah 13:9-11), which must all occur before the millennium begins – and nothing in history compares with the Bible’s description of this time.
  • It completely misses the whole purpose for the Second Coming and millennium as revealed in the Bible.

In contrast to the above, the view held by the early church (as indicated below) was clearly to take the Bible seriously without the need to allegorise or explain away things that might on the surface seem hard for us to take in. This Biblically based view is referred to as Pre-Millennialism – i.e. that Jesus will return before the Millennium and establish His kingdom for 1000 years.

Irenaus, who lived around 130 A.D. to c.200 A.D. said: “Christ is the stone cut without hands (Ref Dan 2) who shall destroy the temporal kingdoms and introduce an eternal one when Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world he shall reign for three years and a half and sit in the temple in Jerusalem…….then the Lord will come form heaven in the clouds and in the glory of His Father, sending this man into the lake of fire  but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, the rest, the hallowed seventh day, restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance.”

This shows that he believed that Antichrist would reign in Jerusalem for three and a half years followed by a return of Jesus to reign on the earth for 1000 years.

Justin Maryter 100-150AD (from his dialogue with Typho) answered that he believed that Jerusalem would be rebuilt and the millennium would be a literal period of 1000 years of Christ’s reign on this earth. He went as far as saying that those who did not believe this truth, and who were teaching otherwise were teaching heresies. He believed in a resurrection of the just followed by a reign of Church on the earth, as prophesied by the prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel and John – the apostle.

Tertulian – 150-225AD believed that “A kingdom is promised to us on the earth although before heaven, but after the resurrection for 1000 years.”

Cyprian – also wrote of the reign of Christ on earth.

Calvary Chapel pastor Joe Focht cites a Dr Eliot who states that – “all expositors except Oregon and a few who reject Revelation were pre-millennialists”. Joe Focht also comments that the ancient Rabbis and early church fathers believed in a 7 day / day=1000 years plan where we would have (from Creation) a 6000 years of ‘work’ followed by 1000 years of rest during the millennium.

Joe also makes reference to the non-Canonical book ‘The epistle of Barnabas’. Whist not part of the Bible, it is interesting to note that the writer believed in a rebuilt temple followed by a 1000 year rule of Christ on earth. (www.ccphilly.org).

Prominent Christian writer Norman Geisler states – ‘Pre-millennial belief is so distinctly and prominently mentioned that we do not hesitate in accepting it as the belief of the early church”

Meed, in the 17th Century stated that pre millennialism was the ‘Orthodox belief of the early church’

Grant Jeffery in his book ‘Triumphant Return’ devotes a whole chapter to the evidence that the early Christians in the first few centuries believed in the literal pre millennial return and subsequent reign of Jesus on earth. (ISBN 0-921714-64-5)

Why have I laboured the point here? Because many of the denominational churches in the UK hold to the unbiblical Amillennial view, so we need to be ready to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”. (Jude 3).

CHAPTER 20

Rev 20:1-2

1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

2  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

The scene as we begin this chapter is that Jesus has just returned to earth at His Second Coming and destroyed the armies of Antichrist. Antichrist and the False Prophet have been thrown into the Lake of Fire, but what about the third part and orchestrator of this satanic trinity? What is to happen to Satan?

These opening verses answer our question, but we should note – and it should be something that should give us great comfort when we are going through tough times because it really puts things into perspective – that God doesn’t send the Archangel Michael and 12 legions of angels, nor does he assemble a mighty praying army to bind our great foe, He simply sends ‘an angel’  – nothing special, just a ‘no name guy’, that is all it will take to bind Satan once God has given the command.

Sadly, we all suffer at times from the false notion that Satan is God’s opposite number, that somehow he is as powerful as God, and that God is locked into this cosmic battle and we’re all just hoping that God will come through in the end. No! All it takes to bind him is one single –we are not even told his name – angel. Satan is a created being and cannot compare to the infinite Creator. God has left Satan in charge of the world for now (2 Cor 4:4 / Luke 4:5-6) simply to fulfill God’s purposes – not least being as part of His training programme for the Church. (To discover more about our training programme see: ‘Destined For The Throne’ by Paul E Billheimer – ISBN 0-7642-0035-6).

Satan is bound with a chain – this is unlikely to be a physical chain because Satan is a spirit being, but something doesn’t have to be physical to be literal. We only function in 4 dimensions (length, width, height and time) for now, but quantum physicists have suggested there may be up to 10 dimensions we currently have no real capacity to understand. Interestingly, Jewish Rabbis came to the same conclusion centuries ago simply from studying the Torah!

Verse two gives us our first mention of the one thousand years and given the context, it can only be meant as a literal period of time – again, God gave this Revelation to show unto His servants the things that would shortly come to pass – He wanted us to understand, that’s why He makes it easy and tells us exactly how long this period will last – one thousand years!

Rev 20:3

And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

We have already made mention in previous studies, but the only place you could have a bottomless pit would be in the centre of the earth, because every direction from there would be up!  In 2 Peter we find that the angels who sinned before the flood (by ‘co-habiting’ with the women of the earth) were cast into ‘Tartarus’. This was believed by the Greeks to be a place in the centre of the earth beneath Hell. It may well be this place that Satan will be confined to during this time.

This verse also exposes Satan as the deceiver of the nations (in case you were in any doubt).

As a rebuttal to the Post-Millennial view, that suggests that we are in the millennium now, as Pastor Chuck Smith comments, ‘If we are in the Millennium now, then Satan’s chain is too long!’

As to why Satan is released at the end of the thousand years we will discuss later in this chapter.

Rev 20:4

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them [the Bride – 1 Cor 6:1-3]: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands [Tribulation saints]; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Two groups are identified here; firstly the bride of Christ – thus fulfilling 2 Tim 2:12 / Rev 2:26-27 / Rev 5:10 / Matt 19:28 / Matt 25:14-31 /  Luke 12:42-44 / Luke 19:12-27 etc.

The second group identified are the Tribulation saints. Why are they singled out? David Guzik says the following:

“They are specifically mentioned so as to encourage them, while not implying others will be left out. This is special vindication for Tribulation saints; they suffered under Antichrist who had said “I will rule the earth;” now they are in authority and Antichrist is destroyed. So, these martyrs are literal, but also representative of all who give their lives in faithfulness to Jesus”

Once again we are clearly told how long this period will last – God could not have made it clearer!  Furthermore, by looking in the Old Testament we can see that this period of time will be very distinct and different from anything we have known. According to Acts 3:21, which speaks of ‘the times of restitution of all things’, the earth will return to the way it was prior to the Fall in Genesis 3. (See also Romans 8:18).

This should prompt us to ask what the world was like back then?

Firstly we know from the account in Genesis that the world was protected by a water canopy. Three practical effects that such a canopy would have produced in the pre-flood world, are a greenhouse type environment on earth, with a near tropical climate everywhere; secondly, such a protective shield would block harmful UV rays from the sun; and thirdly, this would produce an increase in the air pressure, causing both CO2 and Oxygen levels to be significantly higher than we have today.

Once again, science is our ally, for there is abundant evidence that the world was once vastly different than it is today. Coal seams and frozen leaves have been found at the South Pole, yet there are no trees growing there today. Mammoths, contrary to popular belief, were not inhabitants of cold and snowy places; their diet seems to have consisted of tropical vegetation (we know this because Mammoths have been found with undigested food found in their stomachs). Given the locations Mammoths are found in, it suggests a stable global climate. Increased CO2 levels would be great for the bio-mass (plant life), and consistent with this we find fossilised moss 3ft deep, fossilised asparagus 40ft tall, 50ft horsetail reeds, 50ft ferns and 60ft fossilised cattails, all of which have all been found in sedimentary rock (i,e rock laid down by water – probably at the time of the Flood).

Experiments today have shown that under increased pressure, plants and vegetation will grow much larger – this, it would seem, is what the pre-flood world was like.

Cherry tomatoes grown under 2 x atmospheric pressure by Dr Mori.

In an article in Time Magazine (9/11/87 p.82) it was stated that “…earth’s atmosphere contained about 50% more oxygen than it does today”. An article on the university of London’s website documents the fact that they have found oxygen trapped in amber (fossilised tree sap) that is double the level currently in our atmosphere. This confirms what has long been suspected, and answers a few problems along the way. For example; the huge Apatosaurus (land dwelling Dinosaur) only had nostrils equivalent in size to a horse’s. If it were to try to breath in today’s world, it would have to breath in so hard just to get the oxygen it needed, the friction would burn its nostrils! – In reality, it would probably suffocate; and maybe this is what happened to many of the dinosaurs after the Flood, as they left the ark to find a completely different climate.

If oxygen was 50% greater in the past, it would have the same effect on animals that increased CO2 has on plants. This would explain why we have fossilised Rhino’s 18ft tall, dragon flies with 3ft wingspans, cockroaches over 18 inches long, a fossilised centipede 8.5ft long, fossilised grasshoppers 2ft long, a donkey 9ft tall, Buffalo horns with a 12ft span, fossils of beavers over 8ft long, and the list goes on.

Of course, one .of the most significant effects of the pre-flood world would have been on the lifespan of man. Many people mock the Bible because of the incredible ages that people lived to before the flood; however, if there was a God-made UV filter, hardly any genetic disorders (being so close to the original ‘blueprint’), double the oxygen to breath – which we know has incredible effects on the human body – and add an environment with no pollution, is it any surprise that men were able to live so long?

What is also provocative is that in Revelation 16:20, as a result of the bowl of wrath poured out by the seventh angel, we read: “Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found”. If there are no more islands, it would again imply that the earth will once again become one ‘super continent’.

Although no specific details are given in Revelation 20, Isaiah gives us great insight into this period of time:

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD”. (Isaiah 65:17-66:1).

The word ‘create’ in the opening verse is the Hebrew word ‘Bara’ which means ‘out of nothing’. God is going to do something as wonderful as when He originally created the earth. Some think these verses are referring to the new heavens and earth that God will create in Revelation 21-22, however, the simple fact that we have people getting old, dying and the mention of sinners clearly indicate that this is speaking of the millennial world. Note too that animals will return to being herbivores.

As seen from the above, the world will be very different for everyone, but particularly for the Jews:     “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (Isaiah 61:3-6).

Zechariah tells us:

 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you”. (Zech 8:20-23)

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain”. (Zech 14:16-21) where to buy viagra

Rev 20:5

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

By the phrase ‘the rest of the dead’ is meant all those who are in Hell, i.e. non-believers.

In John 5 Jesus describes two resurrections: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good to the resurrection of life, [i.e the First Resurrection] and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. [this will be ‘the rest of the dead’]”  (John 5:28-29)

What we should also make clear is that the First Resurrection is a category, not a single event:

“It must be especially emphasized that our phrase in the Apocalypse covering this resurrection is a retrospect that looks back over all three phases (of resurrection)” (Barnhouse)

“‘The ‘first resurrection’ is not an event but an order of resurrection including all the righteous who are raised from the dead before the millennial kingdom begins.” (Walvoord)

The three phases that Barnhouse refers to are 1) Christ – the Firstfruits 2) Those who are His at the Rapture 3) The Tribulation saints. “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1 Cor 15:23)

Rev 20:6

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Blessed indeed! – especially when we consider the alternative (see Spurgeon’s comments below). All men will die physically, that is the first death. The second death is a spiritual death where once and for all you will be cut off from God – that is what Jesus died to prevent for all who will accept. Born once, die twice, born twice, die once.

The following from Charles Spurgeon’s ‘Morning & Evening’ is a poignant reminder that if God did not spare His own Son, but poured His full wrath upon Him ‘who knew no sin’, what will it be like for one who has rejected Christ’s death in their own place? If Christ took the full force of God’s wrath, so also will an unrepentant sinner if they ‘neglect so great a salvation’. cialis 20 mg pills

If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?’-Luke 23:31

“Among other interpretations of this suggestive question, the following is full of teaching: ‘If the innocent substitute for sinners, suffer thus, what will be done when the sinner himself-the dry tree-shall fall into the hands of an angry God?’ When God saw Jesus in the sinner’s place, He did not spare Him; and when He finds the unregenerate without Christ, He will not spare them. O sinner, Jesus was led away by His enemies: so shall you be dragged away by fiends to the place appointed for you. Jesus was deserted of God; and if He, who was only imputedly a sinner, was deserted, how much more shall you be? ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ what an awful shriek! But what shall be your cry when you shall say, ‘O God! O God! why hast Thou forsaken me?’ and the answer shall come back, ‘Because ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.’ If God spared not His own Son, how much less will He spare you! What whips of burning wire will be yours when conscience shall smite you with all its terrors. Ye richest, ye merriest, ye most self-righteous sinners-who would stand in your place when God shall say, ‘Awake, O sword, against the man that rejected Me; smite him, and let him feel the smart for ever’? Jesus was spit upon: sinner, what shame will be yours! We cannot sum up in one word all the mass of sorrows which met upon the head of Jesus who died for us, therefore it is impossible for us to tell you what streams, what oceans of grief must roll over your spirit if you die as you now are. You may die so, you may die now. By the agonies of Christ, by His wounds and by His blood, do not bring upon yourselves the wrath to come! Trust in the Son of God, and you shall never die.”

 

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